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Author Topic: December changes - all about more and faster journeys to London  (Read 538 times)
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« on: October 13, 2019, 11:11:26 am »

The December timetable change hailed at the Stakeholder event on Friday as the culmination of the GW modernisation plan like turning the key in the ignition and bringing the whole thing to life.  Until now, we have been running "electric trains in diesel timings". What was striking was just how London-centric the timetable changes are, not only in what they are but what they are planned to do.  In that talk, three bullet points one after another I noted:
- case for funding made on faster travel and more seats to London. So the timetable must bring that
- business say that they need faster London transits from places across the west
- more places need to be brought into the practical London commuter belt as the city grows
with no comment about intermediate / regional changes in those objective headlines.

GWR team members including timetabling experts, and some technically informed community members, have worked together to mitigate negative changes on existing regional and local passengers but there will be some.  And looking to those discussions, everyone acknowledged the need, at times, to clear past anomalies and historic provision that benefit a few, but stand in the way of progress. I'm happy to report that after some very serious misgivings some 15 months ago, the balance has been somewhat tipped by fine tunings to be much more in equilibrium. 

From the stakeholder meeting, and in checking timetables for the TransWilts line and drafting content for the next Melksham Train Guide, I have come across a number of things that will effect journeys... here's an idea of some of them across the broad Bristol 'patch'

* Due to a shortage of paths at Bristol Parkway (with the extra "superfasts" going through there), some local services including peak ones from Weston are cut back to Filton Abbey Wood, or to Temple Meads, I believe.  One delegate talked of a significant gap being opened up in the morning peak.

* The 06:56 from Frome is moved 6 minutes earlier, sits longer (13 minutes) at Westbury and now terminates at Filton Abbey Wood at 08:27 rather than Bristol Parkway. (this is the train from Weymouth)

* The 07:12 from Warminster to Salisbury and Southampton now leaves at 07:03 arrives Southampton at 08:08 after a 13 minute timetabled pause at Salisbury.

* TransWilts southbound Monday to Friday services are reduced from 9 to 8 per day, with gaps between trains increased from a two hour
norm during the day to multiple 2.5 hour gaps.  Good news is that the remaining 8 trains are spread slightly wider - last train from swindon is inched back from 20:08 to 20:45 (but, really, there should be a later train if GWR and the government want to encourage Melksham and Trowbridge via Melksham to become commuter towns, as the new early northbound train might suggest)

* Peak gaps in service emerge into Swindon departures from Chippenham previously 08:00, 08:25, 08:45 and 08:56 becomes 08:02, 08:15, 08:56 so gap up from 25 minutes to 41 minutes.  From Bristol Parkway, passengers used to catching the 08:03 will have to travel on the earlier 07:50 or later 08:29.

The examples above are morning ones for the most part... I suspect I could find similar evening changes.

Fare changes are a concern too - with some of the Cotswold line and Berks and Hants concessions that have been in place for decades no longer applicable.  A walkup off peak single at 32.40 is currently valid on the 08:10 from Pewsey to Paddington, where the train arrives at 09:23 - the following train (10:18) not reaching London until 11:21.  From 16th December, the 08:10 leaves at 08:17 but is faster and arrives into London at 09:19. The off peak ticket is no longer available - walk up fare is 60 rather than 32.40 (and I think set to rise further in January).  A new train at 09:30 (London arrival 10:29) is now available at 32.40

People who use the 08:10 Pewsey service from time to time (perhaps a couple of times a week) to get to their offices and have become used to the off-peak fare are less than pleased this can have a severe impact on their budgets.  And especially as they had no trains at all for some 50 days last year because of all the improvements that were coming faster journeys are great, but significant price rises are not something they had been alerted to.

Posting under Bristol Commuters - but really applies to just about all commuters within the swathe of land west of Didcot and east of Exeter! ...

Coffee Shop Admin, Vice Chair of Melksham Rail User Group, on the board of TravelWatch SouthWest and of RailFuture
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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2019, 11:53:54 pm »

One I have just spotted. The 0605 Frome - London Paddington, arr. 0808, will now depart Frome at 0612hrs to arrive into Paddington at 0801. A comparison of the two dates reveals no changes in calling pattern.

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